September 18, 2012
Canada, UAE play nice after airline kerfuffle
By Jessica Hume, Parliamentary Bureau
OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates played nice for the cameras Tuesday, masking a tense relationship that has been fraught in recent years with tit-for-tat fighting and angry symbolic gestures.
Canada and the UAE signed a nuclear co-operation agreement just two years after the UAE kicked Canadian Forces out of Camp Mirage over a dispute about landing rights and then slapped new travel-visa requirements on Canadians when its demands weren’t met.
When asked if the issue of landing rights for Dubai-based Emirates Airlines had been resolved, the two ministers exchanged coy glances but did not give any clear answer.
“Let me put it this way,” Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan told reporters. “We look at our relationship with Canada in the bigger picture. I think when we can look at improving our relationship in general, we can then get through these smaller issues.”’
As the UAE pursues civil nuclear installations, Canada — the world’s second-largest uranium producer — will be there to take full advantage of business opportunities, Baird said.
As transport minister at the time of the dispute with Emirates Airline, Baird sided with Air Canada to block the UAE’s request for more landing rights, which were seen as almost certainly detrimental to the Canadian airline.